I have mentioned this camera before but wanted to add more detail (and add better pictures). The Brillant was first sold in around 1932; early models used a simple zone style focussing method (as opposed to actual distance) with the operator selecting portrait, landscape etc.

This is a later version from around 1937 as it is made from bakelite rather than metal and is known as the V6.  This is a pseudo twin lens reflex and uses 120 film making 6×6 images. It’s not a true TLR because the lens for the viewfinder is fixed with no focussing. It has a small compartment on the side to store an optical light meter and filters; when I opened that I found the previous owners notes on exposures which he/she must have kept for reference.  Also found inside the camera itself was an unexposed film.  I decided not to shoot it yet and test with something more fresh.

Make Model Film/format Year Lens Shutter Aperture
Billant 120 TLR (pseudo) 1937 Voigtar 73mm 1;6.3 T, B, 1/75 and 1/25 f6.3-16

The name comes from the apparent brightness of the viewfinder, most TLRs at the time had a rather dim ground-glass viewfinder, the Brillant  however has a so-called brilliant finder made of plain glass!  And I can say that it is very bright 🙂

Using the camera was fairly straightforward though I did have some winding issues as I think it is supposed to stop winding when it’s moved on a frame but that didn’t work very reliably and I wasted a few frames.

The lens is not very wide, perfect for portraits and group shots (your typical holiday snaps I guess) I was trying to do landscapes and wasn’t getting as much in the frame as I would like.


Shutter speeds and apertures I found a little limiting and picked a low speed film (Ilford Pan F 50) to give me a better range.  The results are a little hazy and slightly overexposed but not bad, probably some cleaning would make it better (and a skilled operator maybe).